Cable Guys Added 800,000 Broadband Subscribers in Q3

The top 17 cable and telephone providers, representing some 94% of the U.S. market, added a net new 644,291 subscribers in the third quarter of 2015. The cable companies, led by Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), added 787,629 net new subscribers and the telephone companies lost 143,338 net subscribers, led by a drop of 129,000 at AT&T Inc. (NYSE T).

In the first three quarters of 2015, the top cable companies have added about 2.3 million subscribers while telephone companies have lost about 130,000.

Additions at the top cable companies accounted for 134% of the growth in broadband subscriptions during the third quarter. Compared with the third quarter of 2014, net new broadband subscriptions amount to just 92% of last year’s adds. Over the past year, cable companies have accounted for 103% of approximately 2.93 million broadband subscribers. The data are included in a new report from the Leichtman Research Group and were released on Tuesday.

On Monday Leichtman reported that the top 9 cable companies lost about 145,000 pay TV providers in the third quarter of 2015 compared with a loss of 440,000 in the year-ago quarter and a loss of nearly 600,000 in the third quarter of 2013. Third-quarter subscriber losses were the lowest in any third quarter since 2006.

Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst at Leichtman Research Group, said:

Overall, net losses among major pay-TV providers (including DISH’s Sling TV) in 3Q 2015 were similar to a year ago, but the quarter also displayed continuing share shifting within the category. With AT&T adjusting focus from its U-verse TV service to its newly acquired DirecTV satellite service, Telcos reported their worst quarter ever in 3Q 2015. Conversely, top cable providers cumulatively had their best third quarter since 2006—the year when Telcos began offering video services.

According to Leichtman Research Group, there are nearly 94 million pay TV subscribers in the U.S. at the end of the third quarter and about 89.5 million broadband subscribers. The big difference is that broadband subscriber numbers are growing and pay TV subscriber numbers are dwindling.

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